Ruthless Gods (Something Dark + Holy #2) by Emily A. Duncan – This One Hurt (ARC Review)

Caitsbooks Reviews Ruthless Gods - 5 Stars

Thank you to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review! All quotes are taken from the ARC and are subject to change. All opinions are my own.

Overall: 5/5 Stars
Characters: 5/5
Setting: 5/5
Writing: 4/5
Plot and Themes: 4.5/5
Awesomeness Factor: 5/5
Review in a Nutshell: Ruthless Gods is an amazing sequel, delivering on it’s promise of gothic horror and monstrous romance.

“Would it be hope, then, that killed her in the end?”

[ Related: Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncan (ARC Review) ]

// Content Warning: Violence, Death, Torture, Self Harm Mention, Body/Eye Horror , Alcohol Use, War Themes, Murder //

Release Date: 4/7/2020
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Page Count: 544

Ruthless Gods is the sequel to Wicked Saints, a book that has hurt me way too many times to count. And did Ruthless Gods hurt me? You betcha. I’m in pain. As for what it’s actually about besides causing my suffering- well, it takes place several months after the ending of Wicked Saints, as our main characters try to move forward with the decisions they made, and situations they were left in. I’m sorry that’s vague, but that’s literally all I can say without going into spoiler territory.

“The realm of the divine is vast and far reaching but it is mortals who change this world…”

Read more to see all of my thoughts on Ruthless Gods!

“. . . Monsters have always slept at the edges of your world . . . “

Writing & Setting

I really enjoy Emily A. Duncan’s writing style. The writing is gorgeous, with ominous prose and vivid imagery, but there’s also plenty of dry humor, bad jokes, and fun mixed in with the doom and gloom. She does have a tendency to repeat some words and phrases, but it’s pretty easy to ignore as the book pulls you in. She succeeds in creating an air of mystery and misery, in the best possible way. Her worldbuilding is full of magic and blood, this world has an in-depth history that you get a glance at, but always want more of. And the magic and mythology? Outstanding. One of the most compelling parts of this series, because it lures you in with a false sense of understanding until everything is thrown on it’s head and you don’t know anything except that you need to keep reading.

“Did you expect to return and find everything exactly like it was before you burned it to the ground? There are only ever ashes after a fire, Malachiasz, and I’ll have you at my feet yet”


This book moves slowly, focusing on the characters and the world, but that doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Because oh boy are things happening. While the plot is more character and travel focused, there are plenty of twists and turns thrown at you (most of which I never saw coming), and quite a bit of action mixed in with the adventurous journey. I wouldn’t say this book is fast-paced. It’s slower, like a predator stalking its prey before it finally leaps.

“The girl who is a cleric but not a clerk, a witch but not a witch. The monster who sites on a throne of gilded bones and reaches for the heavens far past his understanding, or the princeling touched by a power he does not believe in.”

(Pelageya sums up the characters better than I ever could)


The characters are my absolute favorite part of this series, to no one’s surprise. God, I would die for Malachiasz (and he would let me). Wicked Saints stabbed me in the heart when it took his storyline in the direction it did, and Ruthless Gods dug the dagger in further. And I love it so much for that. Malachiasz’s character is probably the most fascinating in the series- anxious, brilliant, and more than a little mad- and I find myself always eager to see what he would do next.

That said, I also love Serefin and Nadya.

Where the first book was focused on Nadya, I feel like we got to spend more time with Serefin here and see his character grow some more (even get a little love story). I love Serefin so damn much. He’s not ready for the power he’s been given, he doesn’t know what’s happened to him, he’s confused and he’s struggling (mood).His journey in this book is something you don’t want to miss. Also that love story.

Finally, Nadya. I really enjoyed seeing the direction she went in in Ruthless Gods. It makes a lot of sense for her character, and while I sometimes disagreed with her decisions, I can see why she made them. And I still love her so much. I love them all so much, they’re just a group of anxious and messed up kids who need more sleep.

Speaking of messed up kids who need some sleep- we got some new characters in this book, and some side characters from Wicked Saints got more page time! (Yes I’m talking about Parijahan and Rashid)(They’re the best)

“Things are set into motion and you must see if you will stand or fall.”

[ Related: Swoon-Worthy YA Romances You Need To Pick Up (Slideshow) (Recommendation Nation) ]

“Damned boy, creature of darkness, what horrors will you unleash on the world under the guise of benevolent protection? What destruction under the lie of salvation? How many will you lead down your terrible path?


Pros- Great characters, fantastic worldbuilding
Cons- Why does Emily A. Duncan feel the need to cause me so much pain?
Overall- 5/5 stars.
Ruthless Gods is an amazing installment in a series that is sure to be memorable. I know for a fact that this series will stick with me for years.

If You Liked Ruthless Gods, I’d Recommend:

Also, if you haven’t already seen the official pronunciation guide, be sure to check it out!!

Two winners will have the chance to win 1 book of their choice (from the list of books shown in the picture above).

Start Date: 4/4, 5:00PM
End Date: 4/12, 12:00AM

Click here to enter!

What is your favorite enemies-to-lovers romance?

Add To Your Goodreads Shelf
Purchase From: AmazonBarnes and NobleIndiebound

Join my book club!
[Discord] [Facebook Group]

Follow Me: [Bookstagram] [Facebook] [Twitter] [Tumblr] [Goodreads] [TikTok]

Bonus! More Quotes I Loved:

“A boy born in a gilded hall and a boy born in darkness. Bred in bitterness and bred in lies”
“Serefin Maleski inhabited the sliver of night that was rife for betrayal.”
“Nadya, if I let myself regret anything I’ve done, I wouldn’t be able to get up in the morning.”
“Nadya has fallen too far, sacrificing everything she believed for a chance to change the world, and punished with silence.”
“You can’t run, little fool, you can’t hide from this.”
“Let her fear.”

5 responses to “Ruthless Gods (Something Dark + Holy #2) by Emily A. Duncan – This One Hurt (ARC Review)”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: